BBC iPlayer Not Working With a VPN? How to Fix It in 2024

Updated on: May 24, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Gjurgjica Panova Gjurgjica Panova
Updated on: May 24, 2024 Writer

Only 3 Steps (Quick + Easy) to Use a VPN With BBC iPlayer in 2024:

  • Download and install a reliable VPN for BBC iPlayer. I recommend ExpressVPN, as it reliably works with BBC iPlayer, maintains super-fast speeds, and has user-friendly apps.
  • Connect to a VPN server. Scroll through the server list and connect to a UK server. In theory, you can use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content from a location where it’s not available, but this goes against the site’s Terms of Service and may constitute copyright infringement.
  • Log into BBC iPlayer. Now, you can sit back and watch BBC iPlayer content!

BBC iPlayer uses sophisticated detection technologies to block many VPNs — this is done mostly by flagging VPN IP addresses. So, if you’re in the UK and want to watch the popular streaming service, there’s a good chance that you’ll be unable to watch BBC iPlayer while connected to a VPN.

Fortunately, some VPNs work with BBC iPlayer, as they constantly refresh their UK IP addresses to evade the streaming service’s IP address blacklists. In theory, you can use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content from outside of the UK, but note that this violates the streaming service’s Terms of Service (it’s only available to users in the country) and could even lead to copyright infringement — we at SafetyDetectives don’t condone this type of behavior.

My UK colleagues tested and found VPNs that always work with BBC iPlayer. ExpressVPN came out on top as it reliably works with the platform, offers servers in multiple locations throughout the UK, has industry-leading speeds, and is very easy to use. Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.


How Does BBC iPlayer Detect and Block VPNs?

BBC iPlayer uses several methods to detect and block VPNs to enforce geographical content restrictions.

The primary way is by keeping a blacklist of VPN IP addresses. When the streaming service flags one of these IP addresses, it denies the user access to the site or app. Plus, a VPN typically routes traffic through shared servers, so many users have the same IP address. Additionally, the platform may analyze the number of simultaneous connections from a single IP address.

The platform also employs deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques to examine the data packets sent by users to identify patterns consistent with VPN encryption and protocols. This method helps in distinguishing between regular traffic and VPN-encrypted traffic.

Lastly, the service might also check for DNS and IP address mismatches. If a user’s DNS server location doesn’t match their IP address’s geographical location, it could indicate a VPN is being used. For example, this might happen if you’re connected to a server with a London-based IP address but you’re DNS server location is Manchester.

Follow These Steps If BBC iPlayer Isn’t Working With Your VPN

If your VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer, make sure to try the troubleshooting tips below.

Switch to another server

The UK server you’re currently connected to might not be able to work with BBC iPlayer. This is because a certain IP address has been blacklisted by the platform. Plus, many users connecting from the same IP address can be easily flagged as suspicious activity. That’s why you’ll need to connect to another UK server, particularly one that’s closer to your location for the fastest possible speeds.

Check for IP and DNS leaks

IP address and DNS requests contain information on your current location. So, in case of IP and DNS leaks, BBC iPlayer will detect your location and prevent you from accessing its content. Some VPNs, like ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access offer free leak tests on their website. If your IP address and DNS request are being leaked, make sure to activate your VPN’s kill switch feature.

Clear your browser’s cookies and cache

All browsers have a cache that stores cookies, which contain information about your location. There’s a high probability that BBC iPlayer is detecting your location from them. To clear your browsing data on Chrome, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner, and from the More Tools tab click on Clear browsing data. You’ll need to tick all the boxes in the Advanced tab and finally click on Clear data.

Disable GPS

BBC iPlayer tracks your GPS location data and if it sees that you’re located outside of the UK, it’ll prevent you from accessing its content. This is an issue that you could encounter if you’re trying to access BBC iPlayer content from your mobile device.

To disable GPS tracking on your iOS device, navigate to Settings, then tap on Privacy & Security, and finally on Location Services. For Android devices, go to Settings, tap on Personal, and then on Location access.

Get a dedicated IP address

BBC iPlayer blacklists IP addresses shared by multiple VPN users. With a dedicated IP address, you’ll get a unique IP address that’s only assigned to you. This minimizes the changes of detection as there won’t be several devices connected to it — only one device.

To get a dedicated IP address, go to your VPN provider’s site and pick a dedicated IP from the available add-ons. Choose a dedicated UK IP address and purchase it. Next, activate the dedicated IP by following the provider’s instructions and connect to it.

Upgrade to a new VPN

If the above mentioned methods don’t work, you can pick another VPN that reliably works with BBC iPlayer. All the VPNs on this list reliably work with BBC iPlayer, have fast speeds, and are user-friendly.

Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2024

Quick summary of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer:

  • 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for BBC iPlayer with industry-leading speeds & security features.
  • 🥈2. Private Internet Access — Great VPN for watching BBC iPlayer on mobile devices (with strong privacy tools).
  • 🥉3. CyberGhost VPN — Good for watching BBC iPlayer on a dedicated streaming server + intuitive apps.

DISCLAIMER: In theory, you could use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content outside of the UK. However, this goes against the platform’s Terms of Service and could be considered a breach of copyright. The VPNs on this list have no-logs policies, which means that they don’t log your online activities. That said, I recommend using a VPN according to all applicable rules.

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best VPN for BBC iPlayer?

ExpressVPN is my top choice for BBC iPlayer. It reliably works with the platform — my colleagues in the UK were able to watch its content without any issues. Plus, it maintains the fastest speeds on the market and has strong security features.

Can I use a free VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content?

Maybe, but I don’t recommend it. Many free VPN plans don’t allow you to access their UK servers. Since BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK, you won’t be able to watch any shows with the VPN. Plus, many free VPNs don’t support streaming or don’t even work with BBC iPlayer, they have slow speeds, and impose strict daily or monthly data caps — so you won’t be able to stream as much as you like.

I recommend purchasing a premium VPN, like ExpressVPN. It’s affordable (prices start at $6.67 / month), it reliably works with the platform, has fast speeds, and offers intuitive apps for all popular devices.

Can using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer get me into legal trouble?

No, but using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content outside the UK goes against the platform’s Terms of Service. It might also constitute copyright infringement. I recommend using a VPN in alignment with all applicable laws and regulations.

What features should I look for in a VPN for BBC iPlayer?

When choosing a top-quality VPN for BBC iPlayer, you’ll need to make sure the VPN has servers in the UK, reliably works with the streaming service, and maintains fast speeds.

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About the Author
Gjurgjica Panova
Updated on: May 24, 2024

About the Author

Gjurgjica is a cybersecurity writer who is driven by her passion for the written word and anything tech-related. When she is not in the role of a Safety Detective, she can be found wrapped in a comfy blanket, binge-watching her favorite shows.

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